Treating eating disorders using the internet.
Fairburn CG., Murphy R.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This article evaluates the empirical standing of online treatment (eTherapy) for people with an established eating disorder. RECENT FINDINGS: There have been four randomized controlled trials of eTherapy for people with an eating disorder. All four focused on eating disorders characterized by binge eating and recruited adult participants direct from the community. The interventions were cognitive behavioural in nature, lasted between 3 and 7 months, and were accompanied by external support. In common with eTherapy for other mental health problems, there were problems engaging and retaining the users, and maximizing their implementation of the intervention. A minority (10-37%, intent-to-treat figures) improved substantially. SUMMARY: This is a new field. The findings of the four randomized controlled trials are consistent with the earlier reports indicating that guided eTherapy interventions of a cognitive behavioural nature are acceptable to (female) adults with a binge eating problem and that a subgroup improves substantially. More effective interventions are required and their use in different healthcare settings needs to be investigated. Direct-to-sufferer eTherapy interventions have the potential to increase access to effective forms of treatment and, in younger cases, they might serve as a form of secondary prevention.